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Click on any image for a full size version.

Click on any image for a full size version.
More Mantis photos below... View all Mantis photos

Mantis Specs
Operating Since:
May 11, 1996
Bollinger & Mabillard
B&M Steel Stand Up
3900 ft
145 ft
Largest Drop:
137 ft
Angle of Descent:
52 degrees
60 mph
3 trains
8 cars per train
4 riders per car
(riders stand 4 across)
Ride Duration:
Ride Capacity:
1800 riders per hour

Mantis is another unique innovative coaster from the masters at B&M. Again taking their cue from examples of existing coasters on which passengers ride in a standing up position, B&M applied their own track, train, and design technology to take the concept to the next level.

Mantis is on Dexter's very short list of favorite coasters. From his very first ride he knew this was something special. Layout, theme and setting play an important role in a rides overall "experience" and Mantis really gets it right. The queue for the station winds with the Mantis layout surrounding the soon-to-be riders. Trains exiting the Immelman dive loop pass very closely to riders in line, allowing excellent views of the track and wheel technology as they pass at near eye-level. As the train traverses the loop, it passes over, upside-down and then twists downward, zooming past the line with an incredible sense of speed and sound. Ahead, viewers watch the trains climb upward as they circle the boarding station high overhead, before speeding down and past one more time on their way to the inclined loop. During the midcourse of the line, waiting riders witness the twisted track of the final elements of the ride, the corkscrew and S-curve banked and twisted to a seemingly impossible degree. Dexter finds the whole experience mesmerizing, and his friends know waiting in line and watching the trains is almost as great an experience as the ride for him.

Mantis' course strays a bit from the "traditional" B&M layout, providing new elements that maximize the experience of the stand-up trains. Following the lift hill, trains bank and turn 180 degrees to face the first drop, parallel to the lift. This short turn gives an impressive hint of speed and anticipation of what is to follow. The front "seat" of Mantis is preceded by a small "nose" that pivots separately from the first car. During the small turn to the drop, riders in the front can watch the car pivot as it negotiates the curve. One will hardly have the time to notice this anywhere else along the course. (Yes, Dexter is a coaster geek.)

The first drop is steep, fast, and powerful, and leads directly into a 119 ft vertical loop. Following that is one of B&M's most beautiful constructions of their famous Immelman dive loop, 103 ft in the air. This takes the trains past the queue and then up high overhead where it makes a small, fast circle over the station. The trains then head down again, once more past the ride queue, and then head up into an 83 ft loop which is inclined at a 45 degree angle. The trains then circle under, around, and then up into the midcourse brake run.

Exiting the midcourse brake, riders are taken immediately into a corkscrew, then turned around and through a tight S-curve that rises to pass over the return track, completing a figure-8. The alternate banking and steep center of the S-curve is so severe that riders on the end "seats" of the cars are pushed forcefully up or dragged down, depending on which side of the car they are on. This is one of the most impressive elements of the ride. The trains circle around one more time before heading into the final brake, perpendicular to the final stretch of track that leads into the station.

Click on any image for a full size version.
More Mantis photos above... View all Mantis photos

Dexter's determination of a great ride depends on more than just speed and thrills. A great ride has "synergy," meaning the whole of the ride is greater than the sum of its parts. Mantis has synergy in spades. All of the elements are excellent, but strung together they provide a rhythm; embodied in the feel of the drops, the sound of the turns, the thrill of the experience. A result of the pacing and sequence of elements as they follow one another, creating art from their palette of thrills, the rhythm of Mantis, follows Dexter long after he has left the park and returned home, and often haunts him right before he falls asleep. The sound of the ride circling, fast then slow, fast then slow, makes a definite impression. Racing into the final brake run is another awesome experience; as it is perpendicular to the station and lift hill, it does not benefit from the heft and reinforcement of those sections of the ride, and therefore tends to sway forward and back as the brakes catch. On the occasional ride where the loading station and second train have not cleared the path ahead, the computer stops the train with a jolt at this first section of brake, rather than slowing it down. The resulting sudden stop, accompanied by very noticeable track swaying, cannot help but evoke a huge cheer from the train full of riders, especially during the "closing hours" runs late at night. (I told you Dexter was a coaster geek.)

The second year after Mantis opened, some adjustments were made to control the overall speed of the ride. Specifically, a series of computer-controlled brakes were added halfway down the first drop. The grab of these brakes is very noticeable, and may be disappointing to avid coaster fans. Having ridden Mantis in its first year, Dexter believes that the reduced speed of the train does not impact too harshly on the ride. It still provides the thrill and rhythm that Dex expects, possibly because the ride has so much more to offer than pure speed. Dexter and his friends remember during the first season of rides, how relatively comfortable the shoulder harnesses were, but that stiffness ensued in the calves of the legs after several days of riding. On future visits the leg strain never appeared again. This could be because of being more accustomed to the ride, riding with a looser stance as a result, or may be a result of the reduced speed. If so, trading a bit of speed for comfort, while not loosing any thrill of the ride, may be a reasonable compromise, even if such a tradeoff would not be Dexter's first choice.

During planning and design, the working name for Mantis was Banshee, a female spirit in Irish folklore known for its blood-curdling howl. This would seem to tie in well with the typical "roar" of B&M trains as they ride their track. This spirit is said to foretell a death in the family, and when a local newspaper published this definition, Cedar Point decided to change the name for sensitivity reasons. Park goers participating in the ride's opening year Coastermania event received Banshee souvenirs and T-shirts, which were already printed before the name was changed. Dexter believes that Mantis is a very fitting name for this coaster, who's tight banked circles and loops, along with the rhythm of the ride, remind him of insect behavior as moths might circle a flame. The original Banshee logo was put to use a year later at Cedar Point's sister park, Dorney Park, as the logo for their new hypercoaster Steel Force.

All pages, images and info © Copyright 1997 - 2009 David W Creighton.
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